The existing swimming bath was opened in 1971, specifically as a sports swimming center for the use of schools and sports clubs. Comprising an indoor as well as an outdoor swimming area, it is situated in the central section of the Bürgerpark, a public park, along with a track and field athletic center and an indoor ice rink. The south of the park with its slightly more urban structure there are several educational buildings. Towards the north, the park has been designed more as a landscape with hills, lakes and walkways.
Judged by economical criteria, the condition of the existing indoor public bath can only be described as being beyond repair. The outdoor pools, on the other hand, are still in fairly good shape and are going to be retained as part of the new concept for the overall complex.
The area in the south of the park, which is also called the “Forum”, will receive a quality upgrade by reordering and designing the outdoor facilities it comprises. Approaching from the south, the new swimming hall marks the last building in the park, which offers the opportunity to design a playful transition between the urban Bürgerpark in the south and the landscaped section of the park in the north. A new and varied walkway link which originates in the Martin’s District in the west and stretches to the new swimming bath and beyond into the Bürgerpark widens out in a generous gesture as it nears the new building. It guides visitors across a kind of square to the entrances.
The key design idea is that of a single, consistent plateau hosting all swimming facilities, which delineates the space between the indoor and the outdoor bath. It extends from the outer areas through the entrance into the interior of the hall, guiding swimmers, visitors, athletes and staff to all the different pool areas within. The entrance area, which has been designed as a central concourse, a cafeteria and the changing areas of the outdoor bath all dock onto this plate. This way, visitors can enjoy good views across the entire site already from the entrance to the bath.
A roof staggered to different heights defines the upper contour of the swimming pool landscape. Office functions and rooms of the local swimming club DSW have been integrated in the upper story of this roof sculpture. From here staff members have a good view of activities on the forecourt and at the different pools in the indoor swimming hall. An attractive roof terrace with south orientation complements this part of the building.
The facade of the swimming path has been conceived as a transparent, light curtain, reinforcing the impression of a swimming bath hall in green surroundings, cradled by nature and trees. It will thus enrich Darmstadt with vibrant and state-of-the-art sports swimming facilities which add a lively use to the Bürgerpark. In the future athletes will be offered a new, high quality training ground and competition venue in the beautiful surroundings of a park.
Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart
2015, 4th prize